Adolescent nicotine dependence symptom profiles and risk for future daily smoking

Addict Behav. 2012 Oct;37(10):1093-100. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.05.004. Epub 2012 May 22.


Recent research on adolescent smokers suggests that there are important differences in the types of nicotine dependence (ND) symptoms that emerge and different patterns of ND symptoms. The purpose of this study was to use data from the longitudinal Social and Emotional Contexts of Adolescent Smoking Patterns Study to identify latent subgroups of adolescent experimental and nondaily smokers varying in number and types of endorsed ND symptoms. Profiles were identified using baseline level of smoking, individual patterns of ND symptoms and other ND risk factors. Discrete time survival analysis was used to examine profile differences in probability of becoming daily smokers 48 months later. Four distinct subgroups of smokers with different patterns of smoking behavior, ND symptoms, and alcohol and other substance use emerged. Heavier smoking adolescents with high symptom endorsement, particularly the need to smoke in the morning, were most likely to become daily smokers 48 months later. A subgroup of social smokers had high smoking exposure and symptom endorsement (except need to smoke in the morning), and high levels of other substance use. Despite lower rates of smoking frequency and quantity compared to the heavier smoking class, 36% of these adolescents smoked daily by 48 months, with a steeper decline in survival rates compared to other lighter smoking classes. Morning smoking symptoms and symptoms prioritizing smoking (i.e., choosing to spend money on cigarettes instead of lunch or smoking when ill or where smoking is forbidden) might quickly identify adolescent non-daily smokers with more severe dependence and higher risk for daily smoking. A focus on skills for avoiding social situations involving use of alcohol and other drugs and reducing peer smoking influences may be an important focus for reducing smoking and other substance use among social smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology*